Public Transit

Durkan Nominates Sam Zimbabwe as New SDOT Leader

If approved, the transportation director would take the helm as SDOT faces a range of upcoming challenges.

By Hayat Norimine December 18, 2018

Sam Zimbabwe said he faced his own set of challenges in D.C. Up next for him could be implementing a vision that would shape Seattle's transportation system in the midst of its daunting growth.

Mayor Jenny Durkan on Tuesday announced Zimbabwe, a top transit official in Washington D.C., as her pick to be Seattle Department of Transportation's next director, saying that "he's the right person to move Seattle forward." 

If confirmed, Zimbabwe would come to Seattle as a transportation guru from Washington D.C., where he served as the District Department of Transportation's chief project delivery officer. Before that, he worked at Reconnecting America, a nonprofit that advises and helps develop public policy on transit development. 

Zimbabwe said he's faced similar challenges in D.C. to those in Seattle—D.C. also experienced immense urban growth during his time there. He's dealt with criticism over D.C.'s streetcar line; he also knows about the difficulties of delivering on basic services and sticking to projected timelines for major projects.

But he said he also relishes tackling the challenges that come with that growth. 

"My vision is for a safe, equitable, multimodal transportation system," Zimbabwe said at a press conference Tuesday. "We have to build out the infrastructure that supports choices for people of all ages, all abilities."

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